Easter is a time when we can often end up over-indulging and, while we should enjoy this time and not be too fixated on what we are eating, there are a few things we can do to ensure that our Easter isn’t our most unhealthy weekend of the year. One way to do this, is to ensure that even if our sugar content is a little higher than normal, we are still eating food that contains lots of health benefits. A great way to do this, is to incorporate superfoods into your meals. Frida Harju, nutritionist at health app Lifesum (www.lifesum.com) shares some of the best superfoods to eat over Easter.
Whether you are having a traditional meal of roast ham, lamb, or something altogether different, spinach is a great superfood to include on your plate. Spinach, like tomatoes, contains antioxidants that combat free radicals. When tested on rats, researchers at the University of South Florida found that spinach improved both memory and learning skills, while the high potassium levels found in spinach increases the speed of signals between neurons, helping our brains to be more responsive.
If you are having roast ham over Easter, then a great way to incorporate a superfood into your meal is to glaze your ham with cranberries. Not only will this give your ham a great taste, but the flavonoids present in cranberries can help lower the risk of heart problems and help strengthen heart health. The flavonoids can also decrease the chances of developing atherosclerosis, a condition that restricts the arteries with the accumulation of plaque, in turn reducing the flow of oxygen-rich blood flow, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Additionally, cranberries have been proven to boost your immune system and ward off sore throats and colds, due to their anti-bacterial elements!
Raw Cacao power
Chances are you will be consuming a lot of chocolate over the weekend, but there is a way to ensure that the chocolate you are eating is good for you. Chocolate in its rawest form, as cacao beans, is not unhealthy. What makes it unhealthy is the roasting process, during which the beans lose their nutrients, and the addition of sugar. You can, however, buy raw cacao powder, and use this to make delicious treats such as raw chocolate brownies, ice-cream, caramel slices and chocolate mousse. In this form, cacao contains an astonishingly high number of antioxidants and can be a great source of iron and magnesium.
You may be focused on consuming sweets and chocolate, but it’s good to take a break from this and try snacking on nuts instead, particularly almonds. Almonds are the only nut and one of the few proteins that are alkaline forming. A body that is not alkaline risks poor immune function, low energy and weight gain, which is why almonds are a great source of nutrients. The nut is high in protein, fibre and vitamin E. The trick is to eat them with the skin on to get all its nutrition. It has also been shown that almonds give a more stable blood sugar level and that it can increase your metabolism and the rate of fat burn, an ideal accompaniment to the other unhealthy foods you are likely to eat.
Parsnips are another great item to feature in your Easter Sunday meal. Not only are they delicious, they contain many essential vitamins and minerals that help to keep your immune system balanced and contain an excellent amount of potassium, which helps to keep your cardiovascular system healthy. Added to this, is the fact that parsnips are a great source of soluble fibre, meaning that they can reduce hunger throughout the day, stopping you from overloading on chocolate!